Healthcare News & Insights

Why aren’t there more doctor reviews online?

At a point in time where you can find a dozen different sites offering user reviews of everything from restaurants to shoe repairs, and hotels to local microbrews, why is it so hard to find a useful collection of reviews about doctors?

As it turns out, it’s the result of several unrelated issues — none of them easily fixed.

While multiple sites, such as RateMDs and HealthGrades, have been set up to collect patient reviews of doctors, they tend to have relatively little data for individual doctors. It’s not uncommon to find a doctor who has treated hundreds of patients but only has two or three reviews on any given site.

And anyone who has used Web-based reviews knows that just one or two outliers can severely skew the results of the company (or doctor) being reviewed to the point that the reviews are no longer useful to anyone shopping around for a new provider.

In its coverage of this issue, the New York Times uncovered several issues:

  • Those in professional fields, such as doctors and lawyers, are far more likely to threaten, and sometimes take, legal action against negative reviewers and the sites that host the information.
  • The personal nature of the doctor/patient relationship may make some patients hesitant to share information about the doctor or the treatment they received, and
  • Some patients put their doctors on such a high pedestal that they’re simply unable or unwilling to publicly share even relatively benign, constructive criticism (such as the need to work on reducing wait times).

Those issues are understandable, but they don’t change the fact that the lack of effective review sites leaves patients short of a useful tool to help choose a new provider.



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